Animal rescue has always been a part of Jim and Kathy Chadwick’s long relationship. Over the years, they have rescued many cats, dogs, birds and even horses. “If they’re sick or broken and come into our life, or we come upon them, we feel it’s meant for us to nurse them back to health and help find them new homes.”
Many times, Jim and Kathy’s place has ended up being that new home, as is the curse of bleeding heart animal lovers everywhere. “In the pet community, we’re known as failed fosters,” Kathy laughs. This is the term shelters give to those who take in animals on a temporary basis and wind up keeping them forever.
“Our first rescue was a terrified (and smelly!) little white dog that Jim rescued from a kill shelter during our first year of marriage. There we were…newly married with a baby, a stray cat and a little white dog in an apartment with almost no furniture but lots of love, baby formula, cat litter and dog food.”
The ever-changing number of critters that has moved through their lives has crowded out the possibility of their home even vaguely resembling one from an HGTV show. “Ours was a home that eventually had two children, lots of their friends, and many, many animals in various states of repair and healing,” Kathy recalls. “If we retire from animal rescue, the nearby vet clinics might fail!”
When Jim and Kathy moved their four-legged family – including Cody the horse — to Blacksburg years ago, they decided to stable Cody at a local barn. As fate would have it, that barn happened to be a sort of halfway house for lost and abandoned cats. “Though the horse boarders made some attempts to feed them, things weren’t looking good,” Kathy notes.
Some of the cats were okay, but others suffered from exposure, fighting wounds, stress and lack of care. Contrary to what many think, cats do not simply revert to a wild nature if they are dropped outside. A cat born feral with a feral mom may survive, but most cats are not feral. They are house cats with markedly diminished survival skills.
“One by one, we scooped up these kitties, took them to the vet and brought them home.” As each room in their house began to fill with cats, it became apparent that they could not turn these healthy rescues back outside. They began to look for adoptive homes. This led Jim and Kathy to a 501(c)(3) called Crazy Cat Ladies, a group of wonderful young women who work to place strays in forever homes.
Andrea Muscatello adopted four of Kathy’s cats and contacted the local high school to introduce Kathy to the Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA) program. DECA connects hardworking high school students to people in the community who need help with local projects. In Kathy’s case, the students worked with her to create www.KathysResueCats.com, a website complete with photos, bios and contact info. They also created flyers and cards and a Facebook page (www.facebook.com/KathysRescueCats/).
Two students, Aida Long and Lucas Keighton, gave a PowerPoint presentation to the Blacksburg Newcomers Club in support of the rescue effort. Brian Currin and Stephen Kromin helped with the photography and web design. Their hard work has led to many successful adoptions.
Jim and Kathy continue to feed the barn cats every night, build houses to protect them from harsh weather and take them in when they need care. They microchip them and give vaccinations.
The Chadwick’s main goal is for people to realize that a cat, like any living creature, is not a disposable commodity. “Fur, fins, feathers – our friends are NOT to be cast aside when it is no longer convenient or one becomes a problem. An adoption or purchase of an animal is a lifelong commitment — their lifetime. And it should never be an impulse decision. Do the research, take the time to get to know the animal and understand its needs. An adorable kitten will very soon be a full-sized cat, dependent on its owner for love and care.”
Kathy has adapted a “David Letterman-style” list of the Top 10 Reasons to Adopt a Cat(s):
The Top 10 Reasons to Adopt a Cat/s
10. Sure cure for the dreaded affliction “ELS” – Empty Lap Syndrome.
9. Power goes off on a cold winter night; suddenly there’s a warm furry critter/s on your feet….ahhhh…toasty.
8. Cat purring reduces blood pressure.
7. Cats make great paper weights…just try reading anything around a cat. They are also very effective paper shredders.
6. It is a proven fact: homes harboring an Attack Cat are much less apt to be burglarized.
5. Permits you to put a “My Cat Can Lick Your Honor Student” bumper sticker on your car.
4. Overwhelm the recycling center when it takes five minutes to empty all the cat food cans.
3. Mouse? No problem!
2. Cat hair is perfect for stuffing pillows.
AND the #1 reason to adopt … multiple cats:
1. Cats are like potato chips – one is never enough!
Text by Emily Kathleen Alberts
Photos by Kristie Lea Photography